Over the last two years, I’ve loved being part of several workshops for dietitians and chefs who are bringing a new approach to cancer care. It’s about actively engaging those diagnosed with cancer in learning to choose and prepare healing foods and a health-promoting diet.
That’s important because cancer patients undergoing treatment and after can face a lot of eating challenges, including changes in appetite, energy, and food preferences. These choices can take a toll on strength, vitality and even ability to continue a treatment plan.
If you’re like the average American, more than half of your diet is filled with processed foods. Many of these foods are full of added sugar and fat and contribute to overweight and obesity. This matters for cancer prevention, because obesity is linked to higher risk, and a healthy diet links to lower risk for many common cancers, as well as other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Do high-fat diets lead to cancer? Not necessarily. That’s a common concern though: The most recent AICR awareness survey shows that more than 4 in 10 people think that high-fat diets can be a cause of cancer. However, whether your diet is higher or lower in fat, it’s your overall eating choices that matter to reduce your risk of cancer.
Early research on diet and cancer risk did suggest a link to fat consumption, since countries with low fat intake (for example, Japan) had lower rates of cancer than countries (like the U.S.) with higher-fat diets. After further study, when scientists followed people over time and adjusted for other eating and lifestyle choices, differences in cancer risk no longer seemed related to fat consumption.